Factory2Fit Spotlight Feature – Judith Kieran

Factory2Fit Spotlight Feature

Judith Kieran

Account Director, Carr Communications

This time it’s the turn of Carr Communications (CARR) in Dublin, Ireland, to take part in the Factory2Fit Spotlight series. We spoke to Account Director Judith Kieran about CARR’s role in the project.

Tell us about your organisation and how long you have worked there

Carr Communications is an Irish SME that was set up in 1973 and currently has around 35 full-time staff. It’s a communications and training company with six divisions – Internal Communications and Employee Engagement; Behavioural Economics and Sciences; Business and Management Training; HR and Career Development Training Services; Horizon 2020 European Research Projects; and Public Relations, Public Affairs and Media.

I work in CARR’s historical office building in Dublin’s Ballsbridge area, where I’ve been based since joining the company 10 years ago. My background is in communications and media production. For the first nine years I worked in the Public Relations division here, where I was directly involved in a number of FP7 and H2020-funded projects. In September 2016 I made the jump to working full-time in our European Research Projects Team. It’s a great team and our work is really diverse, which makes it so enjoyable. I think the combination of interesting projects, fantastic colleagues and lovely surroundings is why I’m still here 10 years on! 

Describe your typical working day 

My working day varies quite a lot and every day is different. Monday mornings always start with an internal team briefing when we share updates across the projects we work on. We also draw on the skills of our colleagues in the wider organisation, so we might hold brainstorm sessions for a particular project with our Behavioural Sciences team for example, or our media relations consultants.

Because we are partners in a number of European research projects we travel within Europe quite often to attend consortium meetings, conferences and events. Brussels is a frequent destination. We also have regular online meetings and teleconferences with our project partners to share plans, progress updates and ideas. My role involves a lot of writing – both deliverable reports, and content for newsletters, websites, social media, and marketing materials – as well as developing communications and dissemination strategies, preparing presentations, planning events, managing social media profiles, media relations, working with our in-house design team, liaising with project partners, capturing photo and video content, and researching upcoming campaigns. So the typical working day usually involves a combination of these activities, depending on the priorities at the time.

What do you like most about the role?

I think it’s a tie between three aspects of the role – collaboration, variety, and creativity.

It’s a privilege to work alongside experts at the forefront of research and industry across Europe and learn about the work they’re doing. There’s also great variety in the day-to-day activities, which I enjoy. Our role as communicators is, essentially, to tell the story of the project and communicate its research results to the people who need to know. This storytelling requires an element of creativity to make it interesting and relevant to the specific audience, whether it’s writing an article or producing an animated video.

Factory2Fit is a challenging and exciting project to be a part of and I’m delighted to have been involved since its kick-off in October 2016. There’s great collaboration and engagement among the partners and they are all engaged in dissemination and communication activities.

How do your professional interests match the objectives of Factory2Fit?

Communications really comes down to changing attitudes and behaviours. Factory2Fit is changing the way we approach manufacturing in Europe and, in doing so, changing how factory work is perceived. Factory workers are experts in their own work. Factory2Fit recognises this and places them at the centre of the project. It’s rewarding to be involved in a project that will have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives, as well as having overall business and financial benefits for the manufacturing sector. 

What is unique about Factory2Fit in your opinion?

The central role of human factors is unique – it’s not just an add-on in Factory2Fit. From the outset, the partners have kept the worker at the centre of their work and their future plans. Also, the unique combination of skills and experience that Factory2Fit’s partners bring. We have three research partners, three SME partners and three industrial partners – coming from Germany, Greece, Finland and Ireland. There is excellent collaboration within the group, which is facilitated by superb coordination by VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland. The project’s External Advisory Board has already proved their value in the meetings we’ve held with them to date. Their questions and advice are insightful, relevant and very helpful.

What does Factory2Fit have in common with other EU-funded research projects?

There are a number of other projects working in the Factories of the Future field. In fact, we have developed partnerships with the four other projects funded under the same topic (Continuous adaptation of work environments with changing levels of automation in evolving production systems) – INCLUSIVE, A4BLUE, HUMAN, and MANUWORK. We have regular teleconferences with these projects to identify opportunities for collaboration.

Although each one is working to address different challenges in different ways, what we have in common are the overall expected impacts: increased adaptability, increased quality, increased worker satisfaction, and wide adoption of the new developments in advanced manufacturing systems. We’re looking forward to developing these partnerships even further – particularly from a dissemination perspective as we share many of the same target audiences.

Has anything surprised you in the first year of the project?

A positive surprise would be the enthusiasm of our partners for dissemination and communication activities. They appreciate the value of communications in achieving overall impact for the project – target audiences need to know about the research results in order for them to make a difference.

It can be easy in a three-year project to get lost in the detail and lose sight of the overall objective, but in Factory2Fit everyone has the end-point in mind. There is great momentum in the consortium from the beginning and it’s encouraging to see this continue into the second year.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for Factory2Fit?

Every project has challenges to overcome. Monitoring workers through wearable devices is a sensitive issue. But that’s where a need for effective communications comes in – letting the workers know about the benefits that wearable devices will bring, such as accessing valuable feedback on their wellbeing, while alleviating any concerns they have about the use of this data. I’m sure other challenges will emerge in the next two years but I’m confident that this group of partners can overcome them. 

Can you briefly describe the coordination between Carr Communications and the other Factory2Fit partners? Do you build on each other’s expertise? 

Because our role is primarily dissemination and communication we get to work closely with all partners in the consortium and learn from each of them. Our closest day-to-day relationship is with the coordinator, VTT. Regular online meetings and face-to-face meetings in particular are a good opportunity to coordinate activities with the other seven partners.

And finally, could you choose 3 words that describe the overall impact of Factory2Fit?

I’ll choose three results that Factory2Fit will expect to bring about for factory workers: ‘Empower’, ‘Engage’, and ‘Change’.

Many thanks for taking the time to speak to us Judith. We look forward to more updates.